Friday, August 7, 2009

Mort Kunstler by Stephen Doherty

Because of his unusual abilities, an easel was set up for
Künstler to work in an empty classroom, and the other
children would line up in the hall, file quietly into the room
through one door, watch the youngster paint for a minute,
and then exit through another. Rhoda Gayle, who also showed
artistic promise, remembers being very proud of her younger
brother. However, when Mort’s parents found out, they
objected to their son’s missing other classroom activities, so
the special attention was discontinued.

By the time Künstler reached the fourth grade, he had been
skipped ahead of his schoolmates again and was placed in
a group with other bright children. That group did so well
academically that the entire class was skipped ahead a whole
grade level. “I didn’t do very well in all subjects,” remembers
Künstler, “but my drawing ability still helped me get out of
trouble when I was mischievous. I would do a piece of art
when I got into a jam and that would get me off the hook.”
Künstler’s art education made further progress when his
mother enrolled him in children’s art classes conducted at The
Brooklyn Museum, where he was introduced to the works of
famous painters. “I have a clear memory of my mother taking
me to the museum by subway every Saturday morning. I must
have started at the age of five or six. I would sit in the corridors
and galleries with other children, most of them older,
and draw the artifacts on display and the various details of the
rooms. As I look back, I realize the sacrifice it must have been
for my mother.”

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All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Knstler, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright 2001-2011. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.